It was sizzling hot. The humidity was intense and hung around Gumshoe’s neck like a dried-out crusty rope noose that figuratively seems to tighten as the mercury climbed one degree at a time.
The reverse of the Chinese water-drop torture. The “Yang” before the “Ying” so to speak. Heat does funny things to Gumshoe‘s brainpan while driving a one officer unit.
As usual, my black & white hack’s air conditioner pumped out hot air like a blast furnace. City policing at its finest inside of a 150,000 mile plus police ride that Gumshoe drove.
Gumshoe enjoyed a private reverie in order to forget about the oppressive heat.
Thoughts about those ever-alluring Corona Beer TV commercials danced across my synapses. I could faintly hear “La Bamba” sung by Richie Valens in the background as the Corona commercial played. You know the ones. You are vicariously sitting on a comfortable chair on a weathered beaten wooden pier or perhaps you are lying supine on a rope hammock that is stretched between two welcoming shaded palm trees, a white sandy beach surrounds you, the serene sound of the calm rolling ocean surf, a gentle cool breeze kisses your face, a beautiful tanned babe with a come-heather smile beckons you as she holds an ice bucket with the bottleneck of a cold Corona sticking out of it. Ahhhh, complete bliss in a pretend paradise.
Sadly, Gumshoe’s reverie was way back in the ’80s before the name “Corona” was associated with the recent pandemic panic. Shockingly to some of you, Gumshoe does not drink but he loves to imagine better times and absolutely better places and he loves women and is married to a beauty.
Wake up Gumshoe! Reality is always too real. Live in the moment especially when you’re a cop in a crime-ridden, violent city with a perpetual target on your back. Yes, it was hot and my white tee-shirt was saturated in my torso sweat since there was a wrap-around bullet-resistant (not the misnomer “proof”) vest on top of it and my dark blue Santa Ana Police shirt on top of that.
Blah! Double blah! Day Watch sucks! Gumshoe had to take it since it had the scheduled weekdays off that would correspond to the community college class days necessary for the remaining classes Gumshoe needed for graduation and transfer to a four-year college degree program. Blah! Double blah! Like Mark Twain once quipped, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education”. Especially in street police work my friends.
Gumshoe knew that a four-year college degree would command a 10% pay raise and put him on another wrung of the career ladder. Money talks and B.S. walks they say. Gumshoe bit the bullet and did the Day Watch gig.
Just another day “cruz-ing” the barrio section of the central district in the “Golden City” (the absurd motto of the city of Santa Ana, Orange County, California). The only thing Gumshoe spied was the smog-streaked, lung burning “golden” sunset of more civil unrest, period.
Gumshoe knew that the hot temperatures produced hot tempers that erupted like “Old Faithful” in a human geyser of blood, pain and more frequently resulted in death to some. Golden City my ass!
Domestic violence (DV) was the most radio-dispatched calls going out to us coppers in a constant flow to all of the patrol districts except one. The Santiago District was situated in the northern portion and most definitely the well-heeled part of the Golden City. These movers and shakers had well-kept residences; top of the line air conditioners; spacious backyard swimming pools with built-in bars and barbecues. Three car garages and of course remote steel access gates and fencing. (Walls work!) Advanced security systems with private uniform armed security responses in addition to us unwashed blue suiters also called.
Mostly, the senior patrol officers, who were within calendar months of pulling the pin, sought this patrol assignment. We young officers called them, ROD’s — (Retired on Duty). God bless ‘em.
These denizens of the Santiago District to Gumshoe’s astute observations, were self-isolated and immune to the common hoi polloi that populated the rest of the city. But of course, they did employ their barrio-born gardeners who labored under the unforgiving sun to maintain the lush lawns and the surrounding foliage of the mini-estates of the privileged few. Capitalism at its best does have its perks. God bless ‘em too.
Oh hum, back to Central District, I thought. My turn in the proverbial barrel of unbounded DVs will soon arrive for my official police response and disposition. Until then, I slowly ran over the numerous potholes that were planted in a serendipity fashion along the black asphalt streets of my barrio beat. The worn-out shock absorbers bounced me and the black & white just like a Mexican Jumping Bean. Ah caramba!
Right on cue, the first of many DV dispatched calls summoned me and they also appeared on my CAD (computer-assisted dispatch) screen like a laundry list.
Through years of being a street warrior, knuckle-dragging cop, Gumshoe learned a few valuable “tricks of the trade” that will be revealed later on in this noteworthy narrative.
Upon arrival at a DV, Gumshoe would quickly ascertain in my fractured street Spanish dialogue with the complaining party if there had been an actual physical assault. Sometimes my questions would only be met with a stoic silence, an uncontrolled shed tear, or with a physical trembling due to fear. Visible bruising takes a while to appear on a body don’t you know. Scratches are readily seen along with bent noses, swollen lips, blackened eyes, and of course fresh blood along with an unconscious prone body on the floor. That was always a good clue. All of these factors added up as evidence of a domestic physical assault. Game over! Do not pass go! Immediate arrest; handcuffing and a free ride to the iron bar hotel. Paperwork for Gumshoe for sure. Blah!
Now, sometimes there was no evidence of any physical assault nor any inkling of a physical threat between the yelling parties. Great! Gumshoe would think, no paperwork. However, the inside atmosphere was extremely hot and very uncomfortable. The apartment or the residence would be void of any air conditioning except for an open door and with open and unscreened windows. If there was a fan, it was on and situated inside the baby’s room.
In this atmosphere of heat and humidity, tempers and arguments would absolutely flare up like a spark on bone dry kindling. Gumshoe would immediately use his “command-take-no-prisoner voice” and order the parties to sit down at a kitchen table, on a couch, or on the floor if applicable. Gumshoe would proceed to the kitchen and open the fridge freezer section. Without fail, Gumshoe would find ice cream. Alleluia! I never found gelato by the way, puzzling? Gumshoe would then ceremoniously and generously scoop out the ice cream into any available bowl or cup and present the ice cream to the seated parties much to their amazement and confusion.
They probably thought: “What is this crazy (loco) gringo (stranger) cop doing?”
Gumshoe learned that folks (even with a slight language barrier or not) would magically calm down their anger as the ice cream disappeared from their containers and into their waiting mouths. Amazing to be sure, but it always worked in Gumshoe’s presence. No, I did not ever have them at gunpoint with the command, “Eat or else!”
A meeting of the minds happened with issues soon resolved as the last of the ice cream was consumed.
Presto-change-Oh! The domestic dispute evolved into domestic tranquility thanks to a scoop or two of ice cream and Gumshoe, playing the role of the “Good Humor Man in Blue” to dish it out.
Well, folks, that’s the story about the “ice cream trick“ that worked on many occasions. The proof was that there were no return DV calls to that location for Gumshoe that evening.
Gumshoe definitely knows that Baskin Robbins and even the socialists, Ben and Jerrys, are on to something good. Too bad they don’t have barrio locations.
In closing, always remember to love the ones who love you and really try to love the ones who don’t and keep some ice cream in your freezer.
PS: Gumshoe loves butter pecan and black cherry.